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 The Anthropic Principle

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Vito

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PostSubject: The Anthropic Principle   Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:52 pm

There are many variants, versions, and interpretations of the anthropic principle. (Google it if you don't know what it is.)

My own variant of the anthropic principle is that humans only know how to interpret everything from a human perspective. There's no lack of evidence for that view. And here's some more of it.

We (the humanoids of planet Earth) have just invaded Mars again — this time with another rover named "Curiosity", which sent back the following image:


The image on the left is Mars the way it looks to the camera...which is the way it would appear to a human standing on Mars. The image on the right has been "color-corrected" to display the same scene as it would appear on Earth, illuminated by the color spectrum of Earth's daylight.

See what I mean? We don't want to just see Mars for what it is. We want to see Mars as it would be if it were the Earth.

I have no objection to scientific inquiry. And there are no "buts". I just think it's interesting that the anthropic principle so deeply suffuses everything we do.

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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:03 am

In Yakspace, the principle underlying that -- albeit pretty far removed from the immediate expression of it -- is this :

Much more often than we grok, our problem is NOT so much our understanding (which works fine, right out of the box) but a lack of relevant information for it to understand.

A tribesman from New Guinea CAN understand what the missionary doctor does. But he has to learn a whole new body of information and the linkages in it first. If he goes by what he already knows, he only gets his own imagination (GIGO).

Or, Not ?

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Rad Davis

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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:05 am

Quote :
humans only know how to interpret everything from a human perspective.

I've tried interpreting things from perspectives other than human, but I just can't do it. Am I lacking in some way? Laughing

Rad
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Vito

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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:00 am

Rad Davis wrote:
Quote :
humans only know how to interpret everything from a human perspective.
I've tried interpreting things from perspectives other than human, but I just can't do it. Am I lacking in some way? Laughing

Rad
Nope...not as far as I can tell, Rad. That's the whole point. By definition, we have only the human perspective, because we have only human experience as a reference point. You're not lacking anything that the rest of us aren't lacking as well.
________

Yakst:

I think you've got it. Imagination might be sufficient to make up the shortfall of information if only a little bit is missing, but I suspect that in most cases it's not. That is, sometimes it can fill in a few holes here and there, but not in a case like the New Guinea tribesman, where western medicine is completely outside his world-view.

It's like the difference between seeing a whole puzzle with just a few pieces missing on the one hand, and on the other hand having just a few pieces and trying to infer the whole puzzle. The former is possible; the latter is very improbable.

In the cosmic sense, of course, the anthropic principle does raise some interesting questions; for example, "Why do the fundamental physical constants turn out to produce a universe that brings into existence beings that ask questions like, 'Why do the fundamental physical constants turn out to produce a universe that brings into existence beings that ask questions like this?'?"

But that's the nature of recursive self-referentiality; it creates unresolvable infinite loops. It's a kind of cosmic irony that a portion of the universe questions its own existence. Wink

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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:26 am

While I have to admit to being more interested in the 'uncorrected' version, alas, the 'corrected' version is the much more common approach in astronomy photos; colors and contrasts are almost always 'enhanced'
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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:14 am

OK.

As a practical (vs. theoretical) problem, there is an angle, bearing on the outcome, that the standard procedure misses.

It has to do with the mind's "intuitive" ability, with appropriate, relevant experience, to filter signal out of noise. And recognise it as signal.

One example : it's axiomatic among deer hunters that you almost never see a deer in the woods. What you'll see is an eye, or an ear, or a tail. Once that "registers" in awareness, the rest of the deer's obvious.

Similarly, an axiom in the arts : "Everybody looks ; what you've got to learn to do is to see." Again, it's a matter of learning to recognise signal in a sea of (visual) noise.

In both cases, you initially have a puzzle with only a few pieces, but they're sufficient, if you know what you're looking at.

Same deal sometimes even with puzzles where almost all the pieces are there. Example : Crook & his double helix DNA model : groked it in a dream (not the first time that's happened in science).

In fairness, all of the above do depend on adequate familiarity with the information and its interrelations relevant to the solution to recognise it as signal and not noise. Which would leave the New Guinea guy initially up the creek.

Where we've differed, it seems, is in our estimation of the limits within which this approach is viable ("valid"). And consequently, in our degree of confidence that feeding the problem into the standard information processor and turning the analytical crank must either result in "the answer" coming out the other end or the problem being declared "insoluable." (IOW, if the answer doesn't validate the assumption set the current model was designed around, then it isn't an answer -- the tail wags the dog, and science continues to advance "one funeral at a time").

Fraternally Yours

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Last edited by Yak on Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:53 pm

DrT999 wrote:
While I have to admit to being more interested in the 'uncorrected' version, alas, the 'corrected' version is the much more common approach in astronomy photos; colors and contrasts are almost always 'enhanced'
Right, DrT. That's a useful scientific tool, and I don't disparage it. For example, as you probably know, we've learned a great deal about the sun by studying its surface in various limited bands of the non-visible e-m spectrum, such as X-ray, and then rendering them as "wavelength-corrected" images, or just at certain wavelengths in the visible spectrum, such as the wavelength of ionized calcium or iron:



And the same is true of the Mars photos. We learn a great deal that we otherwise wouldn't be able to know if we were limited to our "factory-supplied" sensory equipment. It's a way of "getting outside ourselves"...of stretching the human experience into domains where we otherwise wouldn't be able to go as mere bags of water.

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PostSubject: It's not about dogma and prejudice   Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:23 pm

Yak wrote:
...Where we've differed, it seems, is in our estimation of the limits within which this approach is viable ("valid"). And consequently, in our degree of confidence that feeding the problem into the standard information processor and turning the analytical crank must either result in "the answer" coming out the other end or the problem being declared "insoluable." (IOW, if the answer doesn't validate the assumption set the current model was designed around, then it isn't an answer -- the tail wags the dog, and science continues to advance "one funeral at a time").
I don't think that's where we've differed, Yak. It seems to me that where we've differed is on whether what you say science does (your "standard information processor") is what science actually does. There is no "standard information processor" or "analytical crank"...at least not in science the way I do it. The "assumption set the current model was designed around" isn't sacrosanct, and is used only as long as it is useful. When new observations blow it out of the water, all hell breaks loose, and it's back to the drawing board.

That's the way science has worked for its entire history. Sure, there are lulls in between the revolutions, wherein the tail might seem to be wagging the dog. After all, scientists are only human, and their tendency to get so comfortable with "the established view" that they no longer question the assumptions upon which it's founded is one of the pitfalls they need to avoid.

But there will always be people who turn "the best available models" into dogma. Whatever it is they're doing, it ain't science. Rail against it to your heart's content; you'll get no argument from me. You'll be railing against prejudice, not science. I might even join in.

Excentrically yours,

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Kyle Weiss

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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:56 pm

I was recently discussing a notion Michel Foucault mentioned somewhere in his writ and timespace, something about how humans about 400 - 500 years ago used to read (and probably write) out loud as they progressed through some kind of written word. As we began "internalizing" information processing became somehow different. He didn't allude to what, or how, but there was some correlation between "right now" and "back then" as it was with a human thinking brain.

Lately, it seems with certain technologies and perhaps even the ever-increasing population that each day, renders every one of us less unique while in the mist, rather than shouting out rather loudly, some choose to go the other direction, relating to that which is simple, comforting, and easy to understand whilst in the fray and the noise.

Perhaps everyone non-scientifically oriented interested in such areas need that grounding and familiarity, or are merely enjoying the pretty colors. I can relate. Then again, my imagination would allow me to put myself in dog's or a cat's viewpoint while on Mars, and I can certainly say I'd be mostly pissed about the effing spacesuit.

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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:34 pm

Kyle Weiss wrote:
...I can certainly say I'd be mostly pissed about the effing spacesuit.

Cool
No kidding. And how are you supposed to smoke a bowl o' weed in a spacesuit? Can't do it. Evil or Very Mad

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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:46 pm

As a pipe smoking spacecat (in my own mind, anyway) I'd be pissed about the suit for that, among other reasons. Laughing

"You blabbed, Quaid! You blabbed about Mars!"

(...'cept no piping there, probably...)

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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:01 pm

You guys make my head hurt. I am off to the rubber room! Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:33 am

As humans are subjective experience is always human. The subject, a human, perceives the object, whether sentient or insentient, humanly. The subject/object paradigm is ironclad. The science of extending our perception to see things about the sun that our senses cannot was designed by a human and interpreted by same. Humans cannot see other than humanly. But what if the range of human perception was extended not by science but by human endeavor? I'm not saying that there is a way to do this nor could I supply a definition of just what this extension comprises.

But as we change internally we see new things in the object. As the subject changes so too does the object. But this is still human perception, conception, volition and consciousness.
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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:43 am

alfredo_buscatti wrote:
...But what if the range of human perception was extended not by science but by human endeavor?
Huh? You mean science is not a human endeavor?

Dayum. So I really am a mutant after all.

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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:14 pm

We cannot say the object changes, either, though. Just as a thought. All science is, is merely an agreed-to set of circumstances that some folks have that collectively put notions of what we see into a form, and compare notes. It's nothing to rally against. Then again, when it's abused, it's kind of offensive. Like folks who already have an outcome in mind, and simply use science to reach that outcome no matter what. Then it takes another step forward into a faith system.

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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:28 pm

Kyle Weiss wrote:
...Then again, when it's abused, it's kind of offensive. Like folks who already have an outcome in mind, and simply use science to reach that outcome no matter what. Then it takes another step forward into a faith system.
Your description of that kind of "use" of science as abuse is spot on, Kyle. There are other names for it: intellectual dishonesty, pseudo-science, hack work, prejudice, whoring for an agenda...the list goes on. It has become eminently fashionable to purloin the appearance of scientific method and use it as a veneer to disguise lies. The hell of it is, a scientifically illiterate populace doesn't know how to tell the difference between such manipulations and the real thing.

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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:33 pm

I theorize it's because some groups of people wanted to oust religion so badly, the gaps had to be filled somehow. Since people will believe "science" as a namesake more than "God" (or whatever deity), the free-form support of such notions go mostly unchecked.

"Science says so."

Dangerous. Especially in a society of people easily distracted, fashionably dumb, and led by the nose.

I feel bad for genuine belief and real science. Both are equally threatened.

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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:34 pm

You're right. The object is whatever it is. But when the subject changes he has a different relationship to the object, sees something different about it or feels he knows more about it. In that sense only does change in the subject change the object.

I think this can be taken deeper, but logic and definitions can't describe this.
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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:38 pm

alfredo_buscatti wrote:
You're right. The object is whatever it is. But when the subject changes he has a different relationship to the object, sees something different about it or feels he knows more about it. In that sense only does change in the subject change the object.

I think this can be taken deeper, but logic and definitions can't describe this.

I actually agree with you. The problem is, even agreeing on science doesn't change the observation or the conclusion, it just puts rules to the objectivity game. Whomever notices the most (gets the most information) eventually comes up with the highest plausibility. Is there more "beyond?" Well, for me, of course. But this doesn't mean one has to choose, it just means there's two sets of glasses in which to look at things. Or three. Or nine-hundred ninety-nine.

If someone chooses to stick with the same pair of glasses for different tasks, let's say, one person prefers reading glasses to weld, or welding glasses to read...it seems the damage or chance to miss information might have already been done.

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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:16 pm

Everything depends on how skillfully one looks at the object. I suppose in science that means how clearly the objective is framed. If unclear it becomes unclear just what was seen. That is, if everyone agrees on what the object was before the intervention, it becomes more likely that the causal or correlative change can be attributed to it. The object is defined as X before the intervention, and the hypothesized outcome is attributed to its change to Y.

That's the power of science, I guess; everything is measured. Everyone agrees on the terms. The experiment I do here you can do there, with the same outcome, reliability. I don't know how validity is measured. Perhaps it comes from formulating the experiment on results already proved.

And I'm thinking this may be the first time that you have actually agreed:).
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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Thu Nov 08, 2012 5:04 pm

alfredo_buscatti wrote:
...I don't know how validity is measured...
Mike:

Validity isn't measured, actually. In order to be valid, a conclusion must be reached using logically consistent thinking processes...er, to the extent that such processes can be identified and verified. For example, take the two premises, "All cats are animals" (true) and "Some animals are mammals" (also true). The conclusion, "Therefore all cats are mammals" is not a valid conclusion. It happens to be true, but you can't determine it from the starting premises.

That doesn't mean that conclusions reached through other kinds of thinking processes (such as hunches, or intuition) are necessarily false. It just means that you cannot demonstrate their truth or falsehood by logical validation. Of course, you still have the burden of proof (observational corroboration) if you expect to convince others, which is why assertions made purely on the basis of subjective experience that no one else can verify are not acceptable as "proof". Anybody can say they experienced anything. Independent verification is the criterion that separates idiosyncratic "truth" from universal truth.

The requirement for independent verification is often misinterpreted as meaning that the lack thereof means an assertion, conclusion, or experience is false. Actually, it means no such thing. It simply means that it has not been proven to the satisfaction of other observers. There are a great many instances of such cases in the history of science. For example, Einstein predicted that light is affected by gravity. Everyone said, "WTF?" It wasn't until Eddington's 1919 expedition that the predicted gravitational deflection was actually confirmed under real-world conditions. Until then it was an uncorroborated hypothesis that was very controversial. Since then, it has been corroborated so often that it's no longer disputed.

Of course, that doesn't mean Einstein's theory is the last word. It's just a much closer approximation to an accurate description of the way the universe works than Newton provided. Einstein's theory subsumes Newton's work, which is a special case of the more general theory of relativity. Any theory that supplants relativity theory will subsume both Einstein's and Newton's work. That's one of the strengths of science. It doesn't reject what is already known to be true. Rather, it builds on it, expands it, and often reveals it in an entirely new light.

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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:02 pm

*shrug* I'm a fair guy. Say things with which I agree, and I'll happily say so. Laughing

Validity is data, and from that, the result. Crap data measured with bad equipment by idiots who didn't copy down their numbers correctly and omitted variables and consideration, with a notion that they already have the answers and are simply trying to fill in the gaps is, by example, validity-questioned science. Agreeing or disagreeing has nothing to do with what it was, but what it is while in and at the conclusion of the process. That's where theory and fact (if you'll allow me at least the common definition for reference purposes) differ. Science has this tricky habit of "thinking" when it should be studying, and studying when it should be "thinking." That's where philosophy comes in and puts a finger in the leaky dike (not "dyke," as I made Yak laugh by saying in error Laughing ).


I'm not sure where else to take a conversation as fleet-of-foot as this. .
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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:41 am

Whatever. I'm more comfortable deciding to love my fellow humans.
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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:15 am

It seems to me that any cleverly stated argument, whether untrue because simply untrue, or by design, could fool honest investigators, at least for awhile. How then does one criticize logic such that it is regarded as valid? Philosophers are adept at stating logic, but then their philosophical adversaries are just as adept in countering that logic. As I understand it, some philosophical arguments have been in progress for a very long time.

Back to an earlier point, science is certainly a human endeavor, and only humans have minds capable of being scientific.
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PostSubject: Re: The Anthropic Principle   Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:26 pm

Kyle wrote:
...philosophy comes in and puts a finger in the leaky dike (not "dyke,"...
Kyle:

It must be way too early for me to be reading posts on BoB. Apparently my Eeeewwww...Gross Inhibition Circuits™ haven't kicked in yet, onna counta my mind actually let me picture you sticking your finger in a leaky dyke. She was leaking something greenish. I'd wash that finger if I were you. Twisted Evil
________________

Signore Alfredo wrote:
...As I understand it, some philosophical arguments have been in progress for a very long time.
Mike:

As far as I can tell, those who dwell in the Realm of Perpetually Unresolvable Arguments do so because they enjoy it. If they were seeking resolution, they would approach their quest for truth from a direction in which uncertainty could be greatly reduced, either by incontestable logic or unassailable fact. At the very least, they would learn how to ask questions that have more definitive answers.

Asking the right questions is every bit as much a skill as figuring out the answers. In fact, it's more important. Expecting truth from questions that are loaded with assumptions and prejudices is like...er, dancing about architecture with a mouthful of live wasps. It scores high in the Entertainment Category, but it rates significantly lower in the Answers To The Big Questions Department.

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